A town vote in Clifton yesterday could clear the way for a proposed wind farm to move forward.
But not all residents are pleased about the development.
The developer says the wind farm will not only supply electricity to thousands of homes, but will bring in greater tax income.
Opponents say construction of a wind farm violates property rights.
Voters in Clifton said no to a change that would have placed new restrictions on wind farms in town.
“The way it’s set up right now, you have a 4-thousand-foot setback in the Clifton Land Ordinance from a wind tower to somebody’s house,” explains Paul Fuller, the farm’s developer.
Some residents don’t think that’s enough and wanted to change the ordinance to 4-thousand-feet from the nearest property line.
“They don’t start at people’s houses, they start at property lines,” says farmer Peter Beckford, whose home falls 3-thousand feet away from the proposed farm site. “Because your property is your property and if you’re going to be protected by something, it’s going to start at your property line.”
Fuller wants to put the wind farm on top of Pisgah Mountain. This vote helps set the stage for construction, but there have to be some other changes to the town’s land use ordinance to make it up to date with wind power.
Opponents say these changes will just accommodate Fuller.
“They’re removing every protection that the citizens of Clifton have that the developer failed to comply with,” Beckford says.
“Retro-activity is done, it’s not anything that’s new,” says Fuller. “They’ve just corrected something that was wrong in the ordinance.”
The town will vote on the new changes in July.
“The Clifton Planning Board has spent five or six months making sure that the Clifton land use ordinance is as good as it can get,” Fuller adds.
“Is this package of amendments worth voting for no matter what? No matter what it does to your town,” asks Beckford. “Is it worth it?”
Last year, a judge rejected a permit for the wind farm. The reason was based on technicalities in the town’s wind energy ordinance.
Developers are appealing to the State Supreme Court. They say if the ordinance changes are approved next month, they believe the appeal will be successful.
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